Chris Messina
Jan 4, 2016 · 5 min read

January tends to be a moment for new starts and that’s historically been true for me, since I joined Google nearly exactly six years ago today.

Continuing that tradition, I’m thrilled to announce that today is my first day at Uber, where I’ll be the first Developer Experience Lead on the Developer Platform team!

How I got here

Since leaving Google in August of 2013, I’ve grown considerably as a person. When I left Google, I was pretty burned out. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do next but since I’d had a job since I arrived in Silicon Valley a decade prior, I felt like I needed to stay in the rat race, and quickly joined a startup in the digital art space (NeonMob). This lasted a brief four months before the need to take a step back and decompress became undeniable.

Of course, that August I’d also gone to Burning Man for the first time and following the predictable cliché, came back a deeply changed person. It took nearly a year for the changes from that experience to seep in and reshape my life. I wouldn’t call it a mid-life crisis (I turn 35 this week), but looking back, it was clear that I was ready for a thorough reset—I just couldn’t anticipate how foreign my life would look a year later.

As I acclimated to my new self (and simultaneously ran out of money), I started to take on consulting roles, first with Delectable, and then with Depict, where I spent ten months, wrapping up in late November 2015.

During those months, I reconnected with my old friend Chris Saad (with whom I’d collaborated during the social web era) to record an episode of his podcast, Context Matters. Shortly thereafter, he joined Uber as a product manager on the API & Strategic Partnerships. We kept in touch and this fall connected to discuss new openings coming up on his team. The more we talked, the more interested I became, and the more our conversation deepened. I came in for interviews, met the team, really liked the team, had more interviews, and then (with one final shove!) received—and accepted—an offer last month.

Where we’re going next

For most, Uber represents a fast and convenient way to call a car to get from Point A to Point B. But this is but one expression of Uber’s potential (evidenced by other expressions like UberRUSH and UberEATS that exist under the broader Uber Everything umbrella).

Uber is now a network facilitator built on the widespread proliferation of smart phones, GPS, and excess vehicle inventory in the built environment. But that is where it begins, not where it ends.

As I see and understand it, Uber exists at the beginning of the inevitable shift from an internet experienced on screens to an internet that is present in and connects the everyday things that are all around us.

This is the internet that Mark Zuckerberg is partially describing when he writes about “building a simple AI to run my home and help me with my work”.

The question is not if, but when—and importantly, how—we will interact and engage with this emerging era of the internet.

Like Facebook did for people, Uber will build the foundational platform that will enable people to manipulate and control the world around them. But Uber can’t do it all, and this is where the Uber Developer Platform comes in.

My role at Uber

Here’s what I’ll be doing at Uber: nurturing, expanding, and championing on behalf of the Uber Developer Platform ecosystem.

I’ll be working closely with Uber’s product, UX, business development, and developer relations engineering teams to bring the best of breed third party apps into existence, or to improve those apps that already exist, and which build upon, or integrate with, the Uber Developer Platform.

I’ll also be building new—and deepening existing—relationships by creating meaningful developer experiences: running influencer programs, hackathons, unconferences, offering office-hours, and showcasing representative apps built on the platform.

Finally, I’ll be advocating on behalf of third parties and customers, providing the voice of the customer as an input into the core products, documentation, tools, terms of service, and best practices for the Uber Developer Platform. This part of my job will ensure that developers have a great experience becoming acquainted with, adopting, and effectively using the Uber Developer Platform and its associated APIs and SDKs.

Last thoughts

Uber is not without controversy and misunderstanding. I see this, know this, and am vigilant about this. Facebook too, in its early days, was not without controversy. The future arrives in mysterious and abrupt ways, and in the present, is often a messy and rambunctious guest.

Still, the world in which we live is not efficient, not thoroughly humane, not sufficiently accessible, somewhat inequitable, and certainly not done being built. Nostalgia has a place in human experience, but it should not (in my view) inhibit our ability to work to constantly seek to improve the world, even as the changes wrought are not always completely understood in their time.

As William Gibson said:

The Uber Developer Platform is the vehicle I’ve chosen to help bring this future closer to our present reality, and to enable more people to participate in the unfolding of the coming future. Uber has certainly had its fair share of criticism in its pursuit of the future, but it is not nostalgic. It is competitive, fierce, and entrepreneurial — and these are traits that I’ve found in most of the companies that I’ve rooted for over the past ten years living and working in Silicon Valley.

After much personal growth and development, it’s now time for me to get back in the game and make my own contribution to bringing the future I envision closer to our everyday experience. I welcome your feedback, your challenges, and your ideas; I can’t wait for 2016 to get started. #UberOn

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☞ If you haven’t tried Uber yet (wow, really?), use Chris’s promo code to give it a try (worth up to $15 off your first ride): uberchrismessina

☞ If you’re a developer looking to work on the Uber Developer Platform and API, feel free to reach out so Chris can help (messina at

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Chris Messina

This can all be made better. Ready? Begin.

Thanks to Esther Crawford

Chris Messina

Written by

Inventor of the hashtag. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Previously: Google, Uber, Molly (YC W18).

Chris Messina

This can all be made better. Ready? Begin.

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